It was a long dam day.
My trip back west has begun. For the first few days I will be following the Ohio River from it’s origin at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela in Pittsburgh to it’s end at the Mississippi near Cairo Illinois. All told it is 981 miles long. I’ll be paralleling it for most of it’s length. So call it three days travel with a day or two break for more family visiting.
There are a total of 21 sets of locks and dams on the Ohio River. I can’t manage to visit all of them but I’m looking forward to photographing a good number.
First up — a boat ramp. This is typical of Ohio river boat ramps in the Pittsburgh area. A residential street stoops under the railroad tracks and dead ends at the river.
boat ramp at sewickley
I took a lot of industrial pictures today. Here’s an example form somewhere near Glasgow, PA.
There are some amazing stretches of industrial scenery. Often the plants are so big that they simply straddle the road. Usually with no room on either side of the road for a shoulder.
The first dam of the day was Pike Island lock and dam at Clearview, WV.
The lock gates are impressive. Can you imagine having to tighten that turnbuckle?
lock gate at pike island
There was water flowing over just one of the spillways.
spillwya gates at pike island
I took quite a long walk on the rails-to-trails bike path next to the dam. By the time I got back there was a fellow wearing a nifty Army Corps of Engineers t-shirt who was very interested in my odd hobby of traveling about the country taking pictures of dams. We chatted about the dams I had photographed in the West and eventually he decided that I was harmless enough. He told me which of the next 7 or so dams were worth getting a good look at and which side of the river was best for each.
The weather today was less than wonderful. The (realized) threat of rain kept the top up all day and the humidity was wicked. I felt stupid driving around wearing a sweatshirt to stay warm enough because I had to have the Ac on despite it being only 72 degrees outside. At a couple of spots the downpours were so harsh and the standing water on the roads so deep that I pulled into parking lots and sat it out.
some times it’s better to just wait it out
The clouds do make for some dramatic lighting effects. I think this is a coal fired power plant. There are a lot of similar places along the river and they frequently accompany Aluminum plants. (It’s hard to put names to plants when they are so dang big that you can’t find the entrance.)
power plant — i think
The next dam was Hannibal at Hannibal, OH. Here’s a portion of the upstream side showing the gate mechanism.
spillway at hannibal
And a lifting hoist on the lock wall.
hoist on the lock wall at hannibal
This is a Maneuverboat 35. Clearly out of place on the grass. Steamboats.org has a another picture and some information about the boat and the wicket dams that it was used to maintain.
One of the happy bits of getting lost in a little town like Sisterville, WV is that you might take a wrong turn and discover this:
the ferry is coming to pick me up
Drive to the river, park, and flash your lights. Get on the ferry, pay your $4, and putt away to the other side.
looking at the ohio shore
The big guy with the cigar will tell you to go ahead and get out out of the car to get a better picture.
friendly ferry pilot
It’s an awfully clever ferry. The car deck stays pointing the same way all the time and the engine pivots around to push from either direction. Sort of like this:
facing the shore you’re leaving from
pivoting the engine
most of the way there
facing the shore you’re heading to
Now I was on the Ohio side of the river traveling on hwy 7. It moves a bit faster than hwy 2 on the West Virginia side.
The next dam was Willows Lock and Dam. This one was hard to get a good view of because the ACE puts 8 foot chain-link around everything and there was no high spot to stand on and see over. This view of (I think) a piece of spillway gate sitting on top of the lock wall will have to do.
gates at willows dam
There were three more dams between Willows and Huntington, WV where I planned to spend the night. Luckily I had the advice of the Corps itself and skipped Belleville and Racine staying on Hwy 7 rather than following the much smaller hwy 124. Turns out it was a good plan because most of 124 was detoured on to 7 anyway.
The final dam of the day was Byrd. Formerly Gallipolis which I discovered is pronounced as oddly in WV as Versailles is in PA. (That’s North Ver-sails, thank you very much.)
I was tempted to grab a quick shot from the road and head to a hotel. But the turn-out was nicely marked and the parking lot level and not too bumpy. Good idea. The light was fabulous. Dusk combined with storm clouds to make some drama.
spillway at the bryd dam (upstream side)
spillway at the bryd dam (downstream side)
Route for Day 14:
View It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 14 in a larger map